Where does my recycling go?
We get asked this question a lot. Recycling is a global industry and with global markets in a state of flux, the end-markets for Yukon’s recycled materials are a hot topic.
Here’s a list of some of the items we process, and where they currently end up after you drop them off at Raven. As these end points depend on markets and demand, this list is subject to change.
All our materials are shipped out via backhaul, filling up trucks that would otherwise go south empty.
All our paper is baled and shipped to a broker in the lower mainland in British Columbia. Currently, sorted residential papers are shipped to a processor in Greater Vancouver and turned into new egg cartons.
Cardboard and boxboard
Cardboard and boxboard are shipped to mills in the Pacific Northwest, mainly in Washington State. This material is pulped and reprocessed into new cardboard.
Unfortunately glass is a material that is hard to recycle given our location and capabilities. Due to its abrasive nature and high weight, as well as our distance from a glass recycling centre, we are unable to ship all glass out of territory for recycling.
Domestic glass beer bottles (e.g. Budweiser, Canadian, Yukon Brewing and others) are shipped back to the brewers to be cleaned and refilled.
All other glass, such as imported beer bottles, wine bottles, and food packaging is crushed at Raven, then used as landfill cover to compact materials and prevent windblown litter.
All our plastics are shipped to a processor in Greater Vancouver, Merlin Plastics. This processor handles all materials from the RecycleBC EPR program. In 2018 we shipped 239 tonnes of plastic to Merlin. High value plastics such as #1 PET and #2 HDPE are washed and ground or pelletized before being sold as material to make new products. We are paid between $125 and $325 per tonne for this material. Mixed hard plastics are also sorted, cleaned and processed into grind/pellets. We pay between $50 and $100 per tonne for Merlin to accept this material. Tetra-Paks and wax cartons are processed by Merlin and shipped to recyclers in North America and overseas to be pulped. Learn more about carton recycling here.
The rest of what we ship is baled together as “soft plastic.” This includes plastic bags and overwraps (#4 LDPE films), and multi-laminate plastic packaging (made of multiple types of plastic). Multi-laminates include items such as zippered and stand-up pouches, crinkly wrappers and bags, plastic mesh bags, and flexible packaging with a plastic seal. We currently pay between $50 and $100 per tonne for Merlin to accept this material.
While LDPE films can be cleaned and recycled, multi-laminates are not currently recyclable. RecycleBC and Merlin Plastics are currently piloting a program to recycle this material, which you can learn more about here. Because we must bale these materials together, soft plastic bales are downgraded by Merlin and used as engineered fuel, which is burned primarily in the production of cement. This is not Raven’s preferred option, but until other options are available to recyclers across Western Canada, we believe this is better than sending the material to Yukon landfills. We are constantly looking for recycling options that are environmentally and economically sustainable, lower our footprint and help bring us closer to Zero Waste.
Metals are shipped to a broker in Vancouver. From there, they are sent to processors in North America or overseas, depending on markets and demand.
Aluminum is one of the most highly recyclable commodities we ship. Beverage cans are remade into aluminum cans right here in North America.
E-waste is collected in cages and shipped to Global Electric Electronic Recycling (GEEP) in Edmonton, AB.
Raven Recycling has had a close relationship with GEEP since 2009, and have visited their facility to ensure that our materials are being responsibly recycled. GEEP is registered with the Alberta Recycling Management Authority as an electronics processor.
Materials sent to GEEP are broken down into component parts. Plastics, metals, and glass are then shipped to various North American locations to be recycled or reused, as are valuable materials such as copper, computer chips and precious metals.
Textiles are shipped south to a recycler in the Lower Mainland in BC. Items are sorted and either re-sold locally, recycled into filling for car seats, rags, etc., or shipped overseas to be sold in foreign markets.
Have a question about a specific material? Get in touch with us at email@example.com!